Bellator 59 took place last night (November 26, 2011) from Caesar's Atlantic City in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After a full month stretch, the upstart promotion finally had the night to themselves.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, they couldn't capitalize.
Santos had taken Prindle down twice, showcasing a significantly better ground game as expected, but inexplicably, he chose to get to his feet and lord over the grounded US army veteran. Instead of continuing to attack with ground and pound or potential submissions, Santos instead decided it would be a better idea to soccer kick Prindle where the sun don't shine.
The strike didn't look that bad from the multiple replay angles that were shown, but Prindle used his full five minutes and then stated he felt like he was going to throw up, so the fight was stopped just 1:24 into the first round and officially ruled a no contest once it was determined that the blow was accidental.
Prindle and Santos will rematch sometime early in 2012 when Bellator returns, but that certainly wasn't the way the promotion wanted its exciting fifth season to conclude.
The main event wasn't the only disappointment of the main card, in fact, it might not have even been in the top three. Read on to find out why:
Pellegrino had come out of retirement for the bout but it was over just 50 seconds in. "Pitbull" had nailed the American with a beautiful 1-2 combination which dropped him but Pellegrino was keeping himself in the fight by latching onto a leg and closing the distance while hoping to clear the cobwebs. Instead, the referee hesitated, then jumped in at an even worse time when it didn't look like he was in much danger at all.
The New Jersey crowd took their frustration out on the Brazilian, although he had done nothing wrong other than put a hurting on their hometown hero. The lousy stoppage tarnished what would have been a defining victory for Freire, who scored consecutive impressive knockouts to make it to the finals of the last Bellator lightweight tournament.
After the fight, Pellegrino again announced his retirement from the sport and even offered to help train "Pitbull" for the season six lightweight tournament in a gesture of goodwill.
In the only fight not mired in controversy, Eduardo Dantas and Alexis Vila battled for three full rounds. Vila controlled the pace early, winning the first round with a lot of clinch work while mixing in some takedowns with his Olympic wrestling credentials.
Dantas would bounce back, however, as Vila's conditioning began to fade in rounds two and three. The Brazilian prospect utilized his significant height and reach advantage, mixing in knees, kicks and punches while stifling much of Vila's offense.
The third round was all Dantas as Vila was foiled in a takedown attempt and wound up with the Nova Uniao jiu-jitsu black belt on his back for the majority of the period. Dantas had the Cuban defector in trouble, but Vila proved resilient and he was unable to secure the fight-ending rear naked choke that he'd been searching for throughout the majority of the round.
In the end, the judges actually got it right, scoring the bout 29-28 unanimously in Dantas' favor. The 22 year old will next take on Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky sometime in 2012, who showed up for a post-fight staredown with a footstool to make it even.
Nover dropped Held in the opening seconds of the fight but the Polish prospect bounced back with repeated rolling submission attempts, attacking Nover's legs with ankle locks, kneebars, heel hooks and toe holds but Nover, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt himself, was able to defend although it was the closest round of the fight.
In rounds two and three, Nover primarily remained in top position, dropping punches on the ground and staying active while Held continuously looked to escape and attack Nover's legs with more submission attemps.
MMAmania scored the bout 30-27 Nover while many others scored it 29-28 Nover in the worst case scenario, but when it was time for the decision to be announced, the bout was scored in Held's favor with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 to give the 19 year old Polish prospect a split decision victory. Held was given a hearty chorus of boos by the Atlantic City crowd during his post-fight speech.
For complete Bellator 59 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights click here.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did the circumstances beyond its control ruin Bellator's big night? What were your thoughts on the event?